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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Animal Care Keeper - Americas/Australia

The Living Desert is seeking two qualified candidates to join our Animal Care team as an Animal Care Keeper in the Americas/Australia section of the zoo.  This is a key position that requires a motivated, dedicated team player who is willing to make a commitment to this conservation organization supported by a desert focused zoo.  We are looking for an individual with strong organizational, decision making, and task management skills while demonstrating ability to work effectively with all levels of staff in a continually changing atmosphere.  

The Animal Care team is expected to support the Zoo in its mission “to support desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.”  If you are looking for an animal care keeper position and want to help the Zoo achieve a forward-thinking vision of a modern zoo, deliver world class care and has an inclusive culture, we are the place for you.  We are looking for team members who have the ability to make good decisions regarding the welfare of animals, staff and guests while working for the greater good of the zoo.  Cooperative and collaborative team members with a great guest service attitude will thrive here.

Position Summary:

Reports to Animal Care Curator. 

We have 2 positions open in our Americas/Australia section of the zoo. 

These positions will be primarily focused on the existing Americas and Australian sections of the zoo. This section is primarily comprised of a large group of desert species covering deserts from four continents (from a variety of taxonomic groups), which includes small mammals and small carnivores, a variety of avian species, reptiles (some venomous) and may include cheetah, cougar, jaguar, bobcat, Mexican wolf.

Australian Adventures position: This keeper demonstrates exceptional guest engagement skills to conduct engaging animal experiences and training in our newly constructed $3.2 million habitat that takes a modern approach to housing animals in a naturally dynamic and immersive way. This is a key guest interactive position that requires creativity and confidence and a keen interest in elevating well-being and training of a large collection of Australian animals.  Strong communication, flexibility, problem solving, and self-motivation are also necessary skills for this position.

Americas position: This keeper demonstrates the ability to complete goals in a variable, fast moving, capacity. They will be relied upon to move forward our organization’s values to elevate animal well-being and care while inspiring exceptional connections with our guests.

Navigating through the Covid pandemic, this keeper may not be initially assigned to a defined section of the Americas area and will need to be flexible. This position will be roaming between all strings of the area and the keeper will be to be adaptable and goal-achieving in this roving capacity.

Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Ability to remain calm under pressure and remain levelheaded in emergency situations
  • Keep accurate and detailed records of daily observations of area collection animals containing information regarding behavior, diet intake, fecal output, behavior, health, weight, breeding, aggression, behavioral enrichment, capture/restraint, prescribed medical treatments in-house
  • Attend and participate in staff meetings to discuss the needs of the animal collection and animal staff, resolve challenges, and learn new procedures and policies
  • Familiar with USDA and AZA regulations and comply with them
  • Contribute and maintain a safe, positive and productive workplace environment for animals, guests and staff
  • Perform cleaning and maintenance of assigned habitats and make minor repairs when needed
  • Diet/meal preparation, feeding and restocking of feed supplies as needed and as prescribed
  • Daily cleaning of animal enclosures, service areas, holding units, and support areas utilizing various tools, instruments, disinfectants; and with the ability to do so safely 
  • General maintenance of habitats, service/support areas and holding units such as: fence/enclosure repair, furniture, mister system, automatic drinkers, shade cloth, fill holes, etc. Complete monthly containment checks on enclosures.
  • Research the animal natural history; observe and recognize a variety of courtship behaviors; creates environments that induce breeding where appropriate and recommended design options
  • Participates with the daily behavioral husbandry, operant conditioning and enriching experiences of animal collection
  • Strong organizational and communication skills with the ability to accurately report daily information written, orally and with computer programs
  • Maintain assigned areas and holding units to ensure animal, keeper, and guest safety, and are in good appearance paying attention to detail for guest viewing at all times
  • Excellent guests service and communication skills for effective & engaging public speaking; Gives knowledgeable and engaging tour/talks for guests, staff, and donors
  • Ability to work with potentially dangerous animals under the Two Key/Two Lock/Two Keeper and Lock Out Tag Out Engineering Control systems

Experience Required

Minimum Qualifications: • AA, AS or higher degree in Zoology, Biology, Animal Science or other related degree and at least one year of exotic animal experience. Bachelor’s degree preferred. • Experience with animal training and public presentations a plus. • Will substitute training and experience that provides the required knowledge, skill, and abilities. Generally, one year of full-time exotic animal experience will translate to one year of college. • Valid California driver license. • Must be insurable on The Living Desert's automobile policy. Working Conditions: • Standing, walking, twisting, climbing, crawling, kneeling, reaching motions, lifting (up to 50#) • Exposure to extreme heat, chemicals and dust/airborne materials. • Works with potentially dangerous animals (large ungulates, carnivores, venomous snakes) • Holiday, evening, weekend work required. Available on as needed basis for emergencies and events.


Paid Time Off (PTO) is accrued at a rate of .769 days per pay period which is equivalent to twenty (20) days on an annual basis. In addition to PTO you will receive seven (7) paid sick days on an annual basis. Your paid sick time for your first year will be pro-rated from your date of hire and then earned every July 1st thereafter. The Living Desert offers to its employees: Health, Dental, Vision and Life Insurance that is either paid in full or significantly subsidized by the organization. We also offer voluntary Life Insurance, Short Term Disability Insurance and Flexible Spending Accounts. You are eligible to participate in our insurance programs the first day of the month following thirty days of employment. We also offer a 401(k) Plan to our eligible employees. You are eligible to participate in this plan after six months of employment here. A one-time annual discretionary match of up to 3% of your annual wages may be available to you .



How to Apply

To apply for this position: If you want to join this team at one of the best zoos in North America please send resume, three (3) references and cover letter to:

Cover letter should include how you will be key in moving the Animal Department forward and how you will move The Living Desert mission forward. Positions will remain open until filled. Once a candidate has accepted a position at The Living Desert they will be expected to start within 4 weeks.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
47900 Portola Ave
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Phone: 760-346-5694
Fax: 760-568-4842

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